The State of Jazz in Kansas City | KCUR

The State of Jazz in Kansas City

While Kansas City remains a capital city of jazz, the face of that music is always changing.

Kansas City , Mo. – Steve Kraske discusses the state of Kansas City Jazz with Bill Brownlee, music marketer and jazz writer, and Jeff Harshbarger, composer and jazz bassist. They examine the aging jazz fan base, new style developments, and what venues are thriving while others are struggling.


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Bill Brownlee was a king of the compact disc era. He spent twenty years selling tens of millions of CDs to retail outlets as a sales representative and sales manager for leading independent record label distributors. A lifelong music fanatic, Bill takes pride in the role he played in advancing the careers of artists ranging from Alison Krauss to Snoop Dogg. In addition to his new profession in marketing, Bill works as a freelance writer for the Kansas City Star. He documents Kansas City's jazz scene at his blog "Plastic Sax".

Voted Kansas City's Best Bassist by Pitch Magazine in 2007, Jeff Harshbarger has had quite a varied career. A prolific composer and bandleader in his own right, Jeff has recorded and performed across the globe with such varied groups as Forever Tango, Bobby Watson, Curtis Fuller, Nathan Granner, Eugene Chadborne, Milt Abel, Tango Lorca, Jimmy Carl Black, Angela Hagenbach, Krystle Warren, Snuff Jazz, Brad Cox, Ghosty, The People's Liberation Big Bang of Greater Kansas City, Jazz Discharge and Forrest Whitlow. In 2004, he co-founded Tzigane Music, an artist-run collective and record label. Jeff has received The Kennedy Center's Betty Carter Fellowship, the Steans Institute Fellowship, and is a recipient of the 2008 Professional Development Grant from the Creative Capital Foundation.